As ACC schedule released, no room for Georgia-Georgia Tech game

Credit: Georgia Tech Athletics

Highlights of four of the top returners to the Yellow Jackets for the 2020-21 college basketball season.

Credit: Georgia Tech Athletics

Georgia Tech has its 20 ACC games and its full 27-game regular-season schedule. The former includes home-and-home matchups with three preseason top-25 teams. Barring changes, the latter will not include rival Georgia.

The league’s release of its 20-game schedule on Tuesday rendered official — or at least as official as a schedule can be in this climate of unpredictability — the reality that the Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs don’t have each other on their schedules for the first time since the 1923-24 season. Tech doesn’t have room for the Bulldogs with seven non-conference games already scheduled.

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“Both Georgia and Georgia Tech would have loved to have played this year,” coach Josh Pastner told the AJC. “It’s an important game for the state. We get that. It’s just based on how things fell. It was no one’s fault. It was no one not trying to play. It was out of both programs’ control.”

Pastner had indicated previously that a one-year hiatus of the rivalry was a possibility given the NCAA’s decisions to move back the start date of the season from Nov. 10 to Nov. 25 and limit the maximum number of regular-season games from 31 to 27, which reduced Tech’s number of non-conference games to seven. The teams had originally been scheduled to play Nov. 19 at McCamish Pavilion.

“If the game was scheduled for Nov. 25, we would have played,” Pastner said. “But anything prior to Nov. 25 was null and void.”

Pastner said that he and UGA coach Tom Crean considered possible openings, but were blocked by games already scheduled and a lack of coinciding openings. Tech, for instance, couldn’t schedule a game around Dec. 15 because of the ACC’s plan to play league games on that day and also the 16th. A desire to avoid playing back-to-back nights expanded that block of unavailable dates.

There remains a possibility that Tech and UGA could still meet given the potential for both teams to have opponents cancel on them due to COVID-19. The NCAA’s protocol calls for a 14-day quarantine for teams that have a player or staff member test positive, or if an opponent tests positive within 48 hours after a game.

“Obviously, if both of us have a cancellation and both of us need a game, that could be a possibility,” Pastner said. Otherwise, the teams will play next in the 2021-22 season in Athens.

As for the ACC schedule, the Jackets will open at No. 21 Florida State on Dec. 15. The Seminoles, who were named the league champion after finishing first in the regular season, are one of three teams in the AP top-25 poll that Tech will play twice, along with No. 9 Duke and No. 4 Virginia. The Jackets will also have home-and-home dates with Wake Forest and their permanent partners, Clemson and Notre Dame.

Duke and Virginia are the lone ACC teams that Tech has not defeated in Pastner’s first four seasons. The Blue Devils, in fact, have won the past 13 meetings and 37 of the past 40.

The schedule also includes home games with Boston College, North Carolina, Pitt and Syracuse. The road games are at Louisville, Miami, N.C. State and Virginia Tech. The home-and-home opponents, other than the permanent partners, are rotated annually.

“There’s no off nights,” Pastner said. “All 15 teams in the ACC are really good.”

Half of the 20 league games have flex dates, starting with a home game against North Carolina that will either be Dec. 29 or 30, a Tuesday and Wednesday. Nine of the 10 flex-date games are either Tuesday or Wednesday. The last is either March 5 or 6 at Wake Forest, a Friday/Saturday. The reason, Pastner said, is that ESPN is waiting on the NBA schedule to be released before it commits to dates, broadcast outlets and tipoff times.

It is an unusual amount of fluidity with the season due to start in two weeks. Normally, the conference schedule is released by mid-September with firm dates and start times with TV outlets determined or at least narrowed down.

Given the contact tracing protocols, the possibility of schedule changes seems quite high. The league’s news release acknowledged the possibility that all games may not be played. There is not much room for make-up dates. The conference tournament starts in Washington D.C. on March 9, three days after the final regular-season game.

Pastner said that the league’s coaches have discussed the potential to schedule games against each other on the fly (as non-league games) if opponents cancel due to COVID-19 and leave healthy teams with openings.

“You could play Clemson five times,” Pastner said. “The objective is you want to get the games in.”

Pastner has embraced the uncertainty that surrounds the impending season, which for the Jackets begins Nov. 25 against Georgia State at McCamish Pavilion.

“It’s not going to be the norm, but just for this one season, there’s no bad ideas,” Pastner said. “It’s everything’s kind of a wild card and there’s going to be cancellations, so how do you fit in games? You might play an opponent multiple times, whether it’s a conference opponent or an out-of-conference opponent. I don’t see that to be an issue.”

Georgia Tech 2020-21 basketball schedule

Game times to be determined. Home dates in bold.

NOVEMBER

Wednesday, Nov. 25 vs. Georgia State

Friday, Nov. 27 vs. Mercer

DECEMBER

Sunday, Dec. 5 vs. Kentucky*

Wednesday, Dec. 9 at Nebraska

Tuesday, Dec. 15 at Florida State

Friday, Dec. 18 vs. Florida A&M

Sunday, Dec. 20 vs. Delaware State

Wednesday, Dec. 23 at UAB

Dec. 29 or Dec. 30 vs. North Carolina

JANUARY

Sunday, Jan. 3 vs. Wake Forest

Jan. 5 or Jan. 6 at Notre Dame

Saturday, Jan. 9 at Louisville

Jan. 12 or Jan. 13 vs. Pittsburgh

Saturday, Jan. 16 at N.C. State

Jan. 19 or Jan. 20 vs. Clemson

Saturday, Jan. 23 at Virginia

Jan. 26 or Jan. 27 at Duke

Saturday, Jan. 30 vs. Florida State

FEBRUARY

Saturday, Feb. 6 vs. Notre Dame

Feb. 9 or Feb. 10 vs. Virginia

Saturday, Feb. 13 at Clemson

Feb. 16 or Feb. 17 vs. Boston College

Saturday, Feb. 20 at Miami (Fla.)

Feb 23 or Feb. 24 at Virginia Tech

Saturday, Feb. 27 vs. Syracuse

MARCH

March 2 or March 3 vs. Duke

March 5 or March 6 at Wake Forest

March 9 ACC Tournament in Washington, D.C.

* — Holiday Hoopsgiving at State Farm Arena

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